Whether you are a fine wine connoisseur or a wine novice or even a teetotaller, you would be familiar with at least a few popular wine references and sayings. The role of wine in language and literature runs deep. It has inspired famous quotes, verses, and pop culture references, and even inspired R.L. Stevenson to compare it to ‘bottled poetry’.
One of the most widespread sayings refers to the phenomenon of ‘ageing like fine wine’. This is used to compliment someone (or something) on maturing gracefully and getting better over time, much like fine wine. Whether said as a cursory comment or a deeper observation, the expression conveys admiration or appreciation …. and evokes the idea of fine wines appreciating in value over time!
The ageing of fine wine
The age-worthiness of a wine – its ability to age well and improve over time – is an indicator of its quality and a notable trait of fine wines. But how does wine age, and do all wines improve with time?
Ageing, also known as ‘cellaring’, means you store a wine you have purchased and store it in a cellar or a similarly cool and dark place for several years. The wine improves in flavours and textures and appreciates in value during this period. But there is also a component of ageing that happens before the wine is bottled and sold.
Traditionally, wines were aged in wood before bottling, and indeed, ageing in wood is a common feature of vinification. But this is becoming less of a consideration now, and it is ageing in a bottle that is crucial for determining a wine’s fineness and age-worthiness.
It is important to know which wines we should cellar and allow to age, and which ones should be consumed right away since not all wines are fine wines, and neither are all wines meant to be aged. The wine industry is huge and the number of bottles that benefit from sitting around is surprisingly low. In fact, only 1% of all the wine produced in the world should be aged.
This is probably why the idea of wines ageing in a grand cellar has a romantic allure and the practice of collecting old vintages seems aspirational (while being expensive). The scarcity of age-worthy fine wines makes drinking such wines a luxurious experience. These are also factors that make fine wines investment-worthy – i.e., the imbalance of supply and demand, the value appreciation over time, and the medium-to-long hold period.
Aside from indicators like vintage and label, the price of a wine can also tell you whether it is meant to be drunk now or stored for later. Experts suggest that almost all wines priced around thirty dollars and under are meant to be drunk now.
Fine wine and its indicators
Aside from age-ability, there are other factors that make a wine ‘fine’ or premium. The quality of a wine is primary – this is indicated by its length, balance, smoothness, flavour, and complexity. The reputation and record of the estate, its standards of winemaking, the vintage year and output, the provenance of the bottle, and even critics’ scores are strong indicators of a wine’s fineness.
But it is interesting to note that the term ‘fine wine’ itself has no concrete definition. The term is basically a quality descriptor and an aspirational positioning. It indicates the premium quality and perceived value of some wines and keeps a global industry worth $345 running smoothly.
These are some of the oldest wines in the world today!
Our favourite wine quotes by famous people
While the origins of wine references and sayings like ‘ageing like fine wine’ or ‘it’s always wine o’clock somewhere’ cannot be attributed to exact sources, there are many quotes about wine made by notable people. These are five of our favourites, which you can use at your next wine and dine: –
- “Penicillin cures, but wine makes you happy.” – Alexander Fleming
- “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” – Pope John XXIII
- “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.” – Joan Collins
- “We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.” – Eduardo Galeano